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Poems by Mordechai Vanunu April 21 04 photo gallery Links Archives Contact Us Send a Donation How You Can Help The Campaign Current News Vanunu's photos of Dimona The Vanunu Story Write Dr Vanunu Sign the Petition
In this day when jews celebrating independent day,
this is what the world should commemorate.
The new victims.

DYR/Zochrot Commemoration at Deir Yassin

April 7, 2005

On April 7th about 150 Jews and non-Jews attended a commemorative event at Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem within sight of Yad Vashem, the most famous Holocaust memorial. They came to remember the massacre of Arab civilians by Jewish terrorists 57 years earlier and just prior to the creation of the state of Israel. The massacre at Deir Yassin is widely recognized as a pivotal event in the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 in what they refer to as the Nakba.

Zochrot and Deir Yassin Remembered organized a procession that commenced from the gates of the Kfar Shaul hospital and passed around the fenced area of the former Arab village of Deir Yassin, ending at the site of the ceremony. They posted signs bearing the names of 93 of the known victims, out of 110 to 140 Arabs who were murdered at Deir Yassin. The names were read aloud by a number of participants, including DYR Board members, Mordechai Vanunu and Eitan Bronstein, and DYR Director, Khairieh Abu Shusheh.

Zaiyneb Akel, an 80-year-old survivor of the massacre, told of the horrors that she had witnessed on April 9, 1948, including the killing of her family members. Joumana Shab Abed and Raneen Geries performed songs by Fairouz and Mahmoud Darwish. Leon performed a song he had written about the massacre at Deir Yassin, making a special connection with the event.

Here is a report by Hanna Marmelstein, who also participated in the event.

"If there's any positive story I can tell this week, it's a bittersweet one. It is positive in its current implications, but a commemoration of a tragedy: the massacre at Deir Yassin. On April 9, 1948, members of two different Jewish Zionist terrorist groups broke into Palestinians' homes and killed between 110-140 people. This was not the only massacre of the time, and probably not the biggest, but it was the one people heard about, the one that caused so many thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes in fear, not realizing that 57 years later, they still would not be allowed to return.

Zochrot, one of my favorite Israeli organizations, planned this commemoration with an international group known as Deir Yassin Remembered. Most of Deir Yassin's land has been taken by the modern Jewish religious neighborhood called Har Nof. The buildings in the center of Deir Yassin have become part of a mental hospital known as Kfar Shaul.

We walked the land, with survivors, organizers from the sponsoring groups, and Mordecai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower who spent 18 years in prison for disclosing Israel's nuclear weapons program and who is still forbidden from leaving Israel. We carried white flowers, one to represent each of the 93 victims' names that are known. The names were written in Arabic and Hebrew on placards. At first I thought there were only a few Palestinians in the crowd, but as I started hearing Arabic spoken all around me, I realized I had only been counting headscarves. The crowd was a mix of Israeli citizens and internationals, and the Israeli citizens were a mix of Jews and Palestinians.

Young orthodox Jewish children watched us from their playground as we approached the area set aside for us. Speeches began, and singing – mostly songs whose lyrics were Mahmoud Darwish's poetry. Translation was constant, Arabic to Hebrew and vice versa on stage, and then Hebrew to English in the audience for a small group of us sitting in the back. One survivor of the massacre was there, and she began to tell stories, personal stories about many of the killings. She talked about the good relations the Palestinians and Jews had previously, how they had been friends, how she doesn't know what the Palestinians could have done to the Jews to make them do this to her family. She talked about pregnant women being sliced through the stomach and killed; old men thrown off the roofs of houses; seven young boys sleeping in bed who were rounded up, taken outside, lined up, and shot; a few members of her family (herself included) who were given the choice of whether they wanted to be shot or stabbed to death, only to be saved at the last minute by one soldier who said, "Don't kill them, let them go." This is how she escaped, along with the other survivors of the village who were put on a truck and shipped out, away from their village where their ancestors had been for many centuries. Still they cannot go back.

The survivor sang a song, and the lyrics went something like this: "They put a mountain between us… I wish it could become sand and disappear…" Between whom? I wondered. Jews and Palestinians? Palestinians and their family members? Both? "We need everyone in the world to know what happened in Deir Yassin," she closed by saying, and added that she still had the newspaper articles from the time about her family members who were killed. She said this with such urgency, trying to convince a world that has deliberately remembered certain massacres and forgotten others, that we can forget none. That the way to peace is not to forget the past and move on, but to acknowledge the past and move on.

As if to spite her, the group of Israeli kids from Har Nof, instructed by an adult, had begun to tear up the booklets that said "Remember Deir Yassin." I tried to take a picture and one said, "Are you going to put this in the paper?" He then covered his face with a torn booklet, put his middle finger up in front of it, and said, "Put this in the paper."

I was sad to see the boys' reaction, to see them laughing at others' pain. At the same time, I think it is good that they were exposed to this, good that they saw Palestinians who were from the place where they now lived, who not so long ago were kicked off their land by some of these kids' grandparents. As disappointing and disgusting as the boys' reaction was, the fact that so many Jewish Israelis were there to remember and acknowledge the sordid history of Zionism was just as incredible. First the tragedy needs to be exposed, then acknowledged, and then hopefully, someday, dealt with justly. If any people should know the importance of this, it is certainly we Jews."

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